Ultimate Guide to Buying Solar Panels from China – 2024

Navigating the process of finding reliable solar panel manufacturers in China can be daunting.

In this article, ADNLITE shares valuable insights on several key aspects, including

  • the main parameters you need to know when purchasing solar panels
  • the primary components that determine solar panel quality
  • the top ten solar panel manufacturers in China
  • how to effectively communicate with Chinese solar panel factories
  • an overview of the latest photovoltaic market in 2024.

Continue with this article to lead your local PV market with ADNLITE.

Chapter 1: Four Reasons to Import Solar Panels from Chinese Photovoltaic Manufacturers

Residential-on-grid-solar-power-system

1) Comprehensive Supply Chain – Low Cost, High Efficiency, Stability

Low labor costs alone no longer constitute the sole advantage of Chinese manufacturing today.

China boasts the world’s most comprehensive industrial system, especially evident in the photovoltaic industry. In China, suppliers for nearly any solar product and accessory can be found. Key components of photovoltaic systems include solar panel modules, energy storage batteries, wires, photovoltaic inverters, mounting brackets, etc. Specifically, the main materials for solar panels include solar panel chips, PVC materials, solder, tempered glass, and automatic assembly machines for solar modules.

Thus, China’s complete supply chain system, solid infrastructure, and highly skilled workforce can offer customers worldwide low-cost, highly efficient, and stable products.

2) Economies of Scale – Large Production Capacity

The graph showing the annual export value of Chinese solar panels in USD highlights that by 2022, China’s solar panel production had reached 1.4 trillion RMB, accounting for over 80% of the world’s solar product capacity.

This demonstrates that Chinese photovoltaic manufacturers have achieved economies of scale, allowing them to benefit from cost advantages due to bulk production levels. For instance, as of December 2023, the cost of solar modules in China was $0.15 per watt, significantly lower than in India ($0.22 per watt), Europe ($0.30 per watt), and the USA ($0.40 per watt).

This means that components made in China are 50% cheaper than those made in Europe and 62.5% cheaper than those made in the USA.

solar panels for your home

3) Faster Turnaround Times

Chinese photovoltaic manufacturers, serving a multitude of international clients, can offer excellent turnaround times. This efficiency is largely due to the experience gained from collaborating with international customers and understanding their processes. Additionally, many solar panel manufacturers have achieved economies of scale in photovoltaic production, further enhancing their ability to deliver promptly.

4) Technological Advantages in China’s Photovoltaic Manufacturing

China has reached a competitive level of technology in comparison with other countries, particularly in the core technologies of solar panels: photovoltaic chips and automated production systems for solar modules. The leading companies in these two components are all based in China.

Especially notable is the solar chip technology, where many leading companies have gradually upgraded their product lines. Starting from 2023, N-type chips have been introduced by several manufacturers. (For the differences between P-type and N-type solar panels, click here: How to Choose the Best Solar Panel in 2023).

Chapter 2: Top 10 Solar Panel Brands in China

In the realm of solar energy, certain manufacturers stand out for their quality, innovation, and global reach. Below is a brief overview of the top 10 solar panel manufacturers in China, with a more detailed examination available in the article “Top 10 Best Solar Panel Manufacturers In China” here.

  1. Trina Solar: A global leader in the solar industry, known for its high-quality, innovative solar solutions.
  2. ADNLITE: Specializes in a wide range of solar lighting products, including high-efficiency solar panels.
  3. Yingli Solar: One of the world’s largest solar panel manufacturers, offering a variety of solar products for different applications.
  4. Canadian Solar: A globally recognized brand that produces solar panels known for their durability and efficiency.
  5. JinkoSolar: One of the largest and most innovative solar module manufacturers in the world.
  6. JA Solar: A leading manufacturer of high-performance solar products for residential, commercial, and utility-scale power generation.
  7. Renesola: Renowned for its cost-effective and reliable solar panel solutions.
  8. Hanwha Solutions: Offers a range of high-quality solar panels through its solar division.
  9. Suntech: Produces solar panels that combine innovation, quality, and service to deliver high performance.
  10. Sharp Energy: Known for its advanced solar PV (photovoltaic) technologies and solutions.

It’s important to note that these brands typically have strict distribution systems in place. Factories usually do not deal directly with new clients for orders. Instead, interested buyers should contact the designated sales agents to place orders with these brand manufacturers. This system helps maintain quality control and ensures that customers receive authentic products and support services.

Chapter 3: Solar Panel Production Bases in China

Chinese map

China’s solar panel and component production bases are primarily located in Guangdong, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu provinces.

High-Power Solar Components: For high-power solar systems, factories specializing in large-capacity solar components, such as 550W, 600W, 650W, and higher wattage panels, are mainly found in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. As of 2024, these high-wattage solar panel components are among the most sought-after in the market due to their efficiency and capacity to support large-scale solar energy projects.

Low-Power Solar Panels: Manufacturers focusing on low-power solar panels, suitable for solar street lights and small, portable solar systems, are plentiful in Guangdong province. Solar panels for solar street lighting systems (Solar Street Lights), for instance, typically are around 100W and often require custom sizing to fit specific applications.

Solar Component Suppliers: The main suppliers of crucial components, such as solar chips, are predominantly located in China’s inland provinces like Sichuan. The reason for this distribution is that both the cost of factory premises and labor are significantly lower in these areas compared to the coastal regions, making them an ideal location for the manufacturing of key solar panel components.

This geographic distribution of solar panel manufacturing across various provinces underscores China’s comprehensive approach to solar energy production. From high-power panels designed for expansive solar farms to small-scale panels intended for street lighting or portable uses, China’s diverse manufacturing landscape is well-equipped to cater to a broad range of solar energy needs. Moreover, the strategic placement of component suppliers in cost-effective regions ensures that the Chinese solar industry can maintain competitive pricing while delivering high-quality products.

Chapter 4: Three Ways to Find Chinese Solar Panel Manufacturers

commercial-on-grid-solar-power-system

Finding the right solar panel manufacturer is crucial for businesses aiming to source high-quality solar panels at competitive prices. Here are three effective methods to discover and connect with Chinese solar panel manufacturers:

1) Visit Various Trade Shows in China

Attending trade shows is one of the best ways to find manufacturers of solar panels or any other products in China. The Canton Fair is perhaps the most famous general trade show suitable for those with a broad product niche interest. However, if you’re specifically looking for photovoltaic-related exhibitions, you should attend trade shows in categories like energy and photovoltaics. Key exhibitions in this sector include the Guangzhou International Solar Photovoltaic and Energy Storage Industry Expo, the International Green Energy Expo (ipee), and the SNEC PV Power Expo (Shanghai), among others.

2) Check the Websites of Chinese Photovoltaic Factories

Not every company or business owner has the necessity or time to attend trade shows. This is especially true for small business owners, store owners, and online shop proprietors. In such cases, searching for Chinese photovoltaic suppliers through Google can be a great option. Furthermore, China hosts numerous B2B websites that allow you to find reliable and scalable solar panel manufacturers, including Alibaba and 1688.com.

3) Check Various Social Media Platforms of Chinese Solar Panel Manufacturers

Social media offers an excellent way to find and verify Chinese photovoltaic manufacturers. However, it’s recommended not to rely solely on social media for vetting suppliers. Instead, it should be used in conjunction with the two methods mentioned above. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can be utilized to check reviews and gather opinions about these suppliers from other users.

By leveraging these three methods, you can efficiently identify and engage with leading solar panel manufacturers in China. Visiting trade shows allows you to meet suppliers face-to-face and see their products firsthand. Exploring manufacturers’ websites and B2B platforms provides a broader view of their offerings and business practices. Meanwhile, social media serves as a tool for further validation and community feedback. Together, these strategies form a comprehensive approach to sourcing high-quality solar panels from China’s vast manufacturing landscape.

Chapter 5: Key Parameters to Know When Buying Solar Panels

crystalline solar panel structure material

When sourcing solar panels, it’s crucial to understand the specifications provided by suppliers. These specifications are not just numbers; they’re indicators of the solar panel’s quality and compatibility with your solar system. Let’s focus on some of the most critical parameters, using a 550W solar panel as an example:

550W solar panel specs. sheet

Solar Panel Power and Size

The power output of a solar panel and its size are directly proportional. In other words, the larger the solar panel, the greater its power output. However, even among panels of the same size, power output can vary due to slight differences in the quality of the solar chips used. For instance, for solar panels measuring 2279*1134mm, you might find variations in quality, resulting in power outputs between 530W and 555W.

It’s essential to beware of suppliers who offer solar panels with less power than advertised, a common issue with unscrupulous suppliers. For solar system projects where space is limited, determining the precise size of the solar panels during the project design phase is crucial to ensure that the solar system fits the available space and meets the project’s energy needs.

By paying close attention to the power and size specifications of solar panels, you can make more informed decisions that align with your project’s requirements. This ensures that your investment in solar energy yields the desired efficiency and performance, maximizing the benefits of renewable energy for your needs.

Solar Panel Voltage

Solar panels are available in a variety of voltages, including 6V, 12V, 18V, 36V, and 48V, among others. The Voc (Open Circuit Voltage) listed on the specification sheet is typically higher than the nominal voltage. It’s crucial during the purchasing process to ensure that the voltage of the solar panel matches the solar system it will be integrated with. For instance, solar panels used in solar street lighting (Solar Street Lights) are generally 6V and 18V, while those for high-power solar systems (Solar Power System) are usually 36V or 48V.

Maximum System Voltage of Solar Panels

This parameter is essential when considering the series connection of solar panels. The voltage of a string of solar panels increases with each additional panel. The maximum system voltage limits the number of solar panels that can be connected in series.

For a more detailed introduction to solar panel specifications, please refer to our article, “Solar Panels Guide” (Solar Panels Guide).

Solar Panel Warranty

Typically, new, Grade A solar panels come with a 15-year product warranty and a 25-year power warranty. If the price of the solar panels you are considering purchasing seems too low, there’s a risk that they could be second-hand or of inferior quality. Such panels may have a much lower actual power output than stated, and their lifespan may be significantly shorter than the warranty period suggests.

Ensuring that solar panel voltage matches your system requirements and understanding the warranty and quality assurances offered are critical steps in the purchasing process. These considerations help safeguard your investment and ensure that your solar energy system performs optimally over its intended lifespan.

Chapter 6: Six Considerations When Dealing with Chinese Solar Panel Manufacturers

Heavy Load Type

Finding a reliable and legitimate solar panel manufacturer in China can be challenging due to the sheer number of manufacturers and the varying quality of products. Follow these steps to ensure you select the best possible suppliers.

1) Thoroughly Research the Supplier

Gather as much information as possible about your prospective suppliers: their size, capacity, foundation year, sales volume, main product lines, and markets. The process of searching, studying, evaluating, and re-evaluating should be repeated until you have a shortlist of potential manufacturers. Look at suppliers across multiple platforms to get a comprehensive view. Never rely on a single platform to make your decision. Once you’ve compiled a list of suppliers, conduct in-depth research on each.

2) Shortlist Multiple Solar Panel Manufacturers

Never put all your eggs in one basket. If you have a sizable order, consider selecting several suppliers and backup options, even if you’re currently satisfied with your existing supplier. Unforeseen circumstances may arise, preventing your current supplier from fulfilling an important order on time. Additionally, each supplier has its strengths and weaknesses in terms of capacity, quality control, pricing, and after-sales service.

3) Gradually Build Cooperation

Avoid jumping into large-scale cooperation with a new supplier right away. Start by testing samples and packaging. If the samples meet your standards, proceed with a small trial order. Only then should you gradually increase the scale of cooperation.

4) Check All Regulatory Standards and Conduct Quality Inspections

Ensuring that your chosen manufacturer adheres to all relevant safety regulations and quality standards is crucial. You should inquire about their quality inspection processes to guarantee that their products comply with safety and quality regulations. Additionally, researching the photovoltaic quality standards in your country or region will help confirm that your manufacturer meets all these quality benchmarks. These standards mainly include:

  • It’s important to ensure the solar panels you purchase meet these standards to guarantee their performance, safety, and durability. Manufacturers should be able to provide documentation or certification proofs that their products comply with these international and national standards.
  • Additionally, considering the vast array of standards, it’s beneficial to have an understanding or consultation with experts in the solar energy field to ensure the standards are appropriately applied and interpreted in the context of your specific needs and regulatory environment.
  • International Standards:

It’s important to ensure the solar panels you purchase meet these standards to guarantee their performance, safety, and durability. Manufacturers should be able to provide documentation or certification proofs that their products comply with these international and national standards.

Additionally, considering the vast array of standards, it’s beneficial to have an understanding or consultation with experts in the solar energy field to ensure the standards are appropriately applied and interpreted in the context of your specific needs and regulatory environment.

5) Fluctuating Prices

From 2021 to 2024, the prices of solar panel modules underwent a rollercoaster ride, with a notable drop in 2023, where prices fell from around $0.20 per watt to approximately $0.12 per watt. This dramatic decrease was primarily due to an oversupply in the Chinese solar supply chain and a downturn in the global economy, which overlapped to exert downward pressure on prices. The intensification of competition meant that quotes for solar panels were only valid for about 2-4 weeks.

As of early 2024, solar panel prices are at a historical low. If you are in need of purchasing solar panels or solar systems, it is an opportune time to contact ADNLITE (Contact Us).

6) Preparedness for Potential Risks

Despite having a good understanding of your supplier and enjoying many successful collaborations, it’s crucial to remember that they won’t necessarily disclose every risk they face to you. Hence, it’s important to be psychologically prepared for potential risks.

For instance, the tempered glass layer that covers the surface of solar panels is fragile and serves a waterproofing function. During transportation or installation, minor impacts from sharp objects can cause this glass to break, compromising the panel’s waterproofing ability.